All-purpose flour is typically the go-to ingredient that forms the base of many baked goods. It’s also an essential component of many other food prep tasks. But the Japanese have utilized a different type of flour for centuries — kinako, a versatile flour made from soybeans. Although this healthy flour has long been a staple ingredient of Japanese cuisine, it is gaining in popularity in the United States as health-conscious individuals seek a suitable alternative to all-purpose flour.
What is Kinako?
Not just another healthy food made from soy, this soybean flour can also be used to season many dishes in the same manner salt and pepper grace nearly every meal. And while it is as simple an ingredient as salt and pepper, it adds numerous health benefits to many dishes.
The process of making kinako is also a simple one: soybeans are toasted and crushed into a fine powder. Depending on the brand, the skins of the soybeans may or may not have been removed.
Kinako flour exhibits a subtly sweet flavor somewhat akin to peanut butter. While this is especially complimentary to many baked goods and sugary foods, it can be used to season or add a touch of umami to a variety of savory dishes as well.
Health Benefits of Soybeans
The most notable health benefit of soybeans is that unlike many other plant-based proteins, soybeans contain all nine essential amino acids needed for healthy bone and muscle growth. It is also low in saturated fat, making food made from soy, such as tofu, a high protein alternative to meats.
Soybeans also contain good fats such as omega-6 and omega-3, no cholesterol, and nearly 10 grams of fiber per cup. All of this helps to lower your bad cholesterol and improves the digestive process.
Soybeans offer the right amount of essential vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, which is vital for heart and kidney health, and iron to improve healthy blood flow. Consuming soybeans as part of a regular diet also serves to regulate blood pressure, treat symptoms of menopause, and reduce the risks of breast cancer and prostate cancer.
Nutritional Facts of Kinako
You can get many of the same health benefits of soybeans by adding one tablespoon of kinako to your daily diet. One particularly nutritious brand is Kuromame Kinako, a very flavorful soybean flour made from black soybeans rather than the more common beige-colored soybeans.
Kuromame Kinako is a little healthier than other soybean flours, offering 6 grams of protein per tablespoon, as well as calcium, iron, and potassium. One tablespoon contains 2 grams of dietary fiber and only 3.5 grams of fat.
How to Add Kinako to Your Everyday Life
There are many ways to incorporate kinako easily into your daily life. Two of the most common include adding it to beverages such as tea or smoothies, and baked goods.
In Japan, adding kinako to smoothies is just as popular as adding matcha green tea powder. You can add a tablespoon to any fruit or vegetable smoothies and enjoy the health benefits. Likewise, you can use kinako soybean flour in place of other flours to make bread, cookies, or pancakes.
Ppeople also use kinako to add flavor to a variety of foods, and also to thicken thin foods. It often serves as a topping for a variety of sweets, especially the Japanese dessert, mochi. Kinako can also be used to make pancakes and is popular on buttered toast. Try some of these flavorful and healthy recipes featuring kinako as an ingredient.
Soybean Milk Tea
This tea is a sweet and creamy drink and a traditional part of Japanese culinary culture. It’s effortless to make and will remind you somewhat of British-style black tea. If you enjoy a cup of tea once in a while, you’ll want to try this recipe of Soybean Milk Tea!
Kinako Soybean Flour Bread
This soybean bread is a salty-sweet dessert that you’ll want to make every day!
- A Bagel or 2 slices of bread
- 1 Tbsp Milk or Soy Milk
- 1 Tbsp Kinako
- A pinch of Salt
- 1 Tbsp Sugar
Toast the bagel or bread and cut into bite-size pieces. Mix the pieces with milk in a small bowl and sprinkle with the kinako, sugar, and a pinch of salt.
Banana Kinako Soybean Flour Smoothie
There are dozens of smoothie combinations you can add kinako too, and you likely have a favorite smoothie of your own, but why not give this banana soybean smoothie a try. Between the bananas and the kinako and soybean milk, you’ll get a big boost of potassium as well as other essential vitamins and minerals.
- 1 banana
- 2 Tbsp Kinako
- 2 Tbsp Honey
- 1 cup Milk or soybean milk
Put all the ingredients in a mixer or smoothie maker, mix, and enjoy your smoothie!